Where is the diesel?”
That was the first comment I’d hear everyone say after Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) officially launched the all-new Accent sedan late in 2010.
And for good reason.
It runs on cheaper fuel, it’s compact, fuel-efficient and so much fun to ride.
Without the need for HARI to go into specifics, everyone knew that it was just a matter of time before they gave in.
When I asked Hyundai officials why it took almost two and a half years to release the Accent CRDi, they said, “The timing of the launch of the Accent Hatch diesel supports our long-term brand innovation and awareness strategy on the strength of our fuel-efficiency value proposition to our customers.”
With gasoline a little more than 10 pesos than diesel, I’d say HARI’s timing is impeccable.
At first glance, this made-for-the-city compact hatchback, that is 255mm shorter than the sedan, has a very exciting and sporty look – the 16-inch tires really polishes it off (the MT has 14’s). The lines on it induce an active and energetic, on-the-go appearance, which makes you want to dive behind the wheel ASAP and I love that in an automobile.
Well it doesn’t disappoint.
The 1.6L engine may only have 124 horses underneath the hood but the 260 Nm of torque makes driving this barely-a-ton Accent Hatchback CRDi time well spent. The quick and snappy acceleration comes in especially handy when overtaking and maneuvering through traffic in Metro Manila. I averaged 14.7 kilometers per liter city-driving and putting the Accent CRDi through its paces.
The suspension is just a tad stiffer, not to the point of being uncomfortable, than the gas variant but the difference is negligible. Unless you’re Hans Christian Andersen’s Danish princess, then you should be pretty cozy sitting in the 5-seater cabin.
They’ve really gone for a minimalist look inside the Accent Hatchback CRDi. It has a one-din, in-dash CD stereo system with Bluetooth, AUX and even the modern-day USB connection. Basic built-in trip computer and steering wheel controls complete the “tech” factor. All that’s left is precious real estate for legroom and various pockets for you to store your mobile devices and other small items you bring along on a daily basis. In the hatch, there is more than enough space for overnight luggage for a group of five. And if you’re in a total hauling mode, the second row seats split 60:40 for more cargo room.
I’m glad they chose motor-driven power steering because the feedback from the roads is outstanding. The Accent Hatchback CRDi really gives you a good feel of its weight and speed as you twist and turn giving you a better handle on the ride and the adjustments you need to do on the fly.
My weekend test unit had a 4-speed AT with manual option and that’s actually a good thing on two counts. First, sporting Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT), I was resigned to the fact that I will have to allot a budget to cover fines for over-speeding but with the gears spread out a little more, you’re less inclined to rush through them to get higher and go faster. It felt oddly normal to get lulled into a steady and decent pace by the transmission. Second, any more gears on this trim may put its price beyond the reasonable range of the segment. With that being said, five or dare I say six gears on this AT would have been sweet on those long stretches on the expressways.
The keyless entry is very basic with no hatch unlock from the fob. After turning the ignition, the Accent Hatchback CRDi doesn’t mask the distinct diesel “rumble” from the engine. What should be masked though or more appropriately, pitched down is the puny-sounding horn which doesn’t do the Accent any favors in honking terms.
Safety-wise, this variant has dual airbags while the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) is available on both the AT and the MT.
Other features include an Eco Mode for the AT while the MT has a Shift Indicator to guide you through a more efficient manner of shifting.
This Accent Hatchback CRDi is priced at P868,000 which is P100,000 more than the MT trim.
Forget about the old notion that small car equals zero fun. The times are a-changing and the auto industry is changing along with it. Compact cars can now produce more power while using less fuel. They have cleaner emissions and in the process make a significantly smaller carbon footprint.
The Hyundai Accent Hatchback CRDi could probably be the most exciting vehicle in the B-segment right now but don’t just take my word for it. Take it out for a spin and see for yourself.